Art, Interviews | Guatemala | 21.02.24

Guatemalan Textiles with Molly Berry of Luna Zorro

Molly Berry, founder of Luna Zorro, shares the story behind her ethical textiles business which honours the history & culture of Guatemala.

Where did the idea for Luna Zorro come from?

When my family and I first moved to Antigua in Guatemala nine years ago, I wanted a bedspread for our room. Ideally, it would be handwoven & made locally. Although there were so many beautiful textiles in bold colours, I wanted something a little more neutral. After speaking with loads of artisans, one guy asked me exactly what I was looking for. I sketched out a simple design, which he took to his family by Lake Atitlán. A couple of weeks later, they had hand-woven exactly what I wanted!

I shared a picture of my son asleep on the bedspread. Within minutes an architect from Panama noticed it. She was redesigning a boutique hotel called Las Clementinas in Panama City & asked for 15 more just like it. The weavers got the order perfectly. Before I shipped them I came up with a business name. Luna Zorro (which translates to Moon Fox in Spanish) is named after my children- Joaquin Fox and Hazel Moon.

A year and a half after starting Luna Zorro we got an order of 1,000 hand-woven bath robes from Auberge, for their luxury hotel in Los Cabos. It took 6,000 yards of fabric to complete the order but we succeeded. We now create bespoke textiles for 12 different Auberge properties & ship to clients across the world.

Who are the Guatemalan artisans you partner with at Luna Zorro?

I met a whole community of incredible weavers & artisans in the western highlands of Guatemala & I now work regularly with four big families. Creating Luna Zorro has been an incredible way to bring their products into a luxury market, which I believe is 100% where they belong. Weaving is such an incredible, complex skill that should be honoured & preserved.

What were the biggest challenges you faced along the way?

I had no financial capital starting Luna Zorro, as everything is made to order. It’s a very human-centred product, made by hand without electricity. You have huge orders to fill but you also have to allow for human error or people getting sick. At times it can be hard to manage!

 

What first drew you to Central America?

I always knew I wanted to travel. I met my husband Juan, who is half Guatemalan, in San Francisco and we moved to Casco Viejo. This historic colonial neighbourhood in Panama City had the dilapidated beauty of Havana. You’d always see families hanging out, reggaeton blasting in the streets, outdoor cafes. Then came an inflow of architects rebuilding, restoring and gentrifying the city.

We always knew that we’d move to Guatemala eventually. While I started my textile design business here, Juan worked in sustainable agroforestry. His family has a farm on the Caribbean coast here which has been in the family for generations. It’s a jungle where they once grew papaya and kept water buffalo. Now it’s mainly used to grow endangered tropical hardwood trees like rosewood and mahogany.

Where do you recommend visiting in Antigua?

Finca La Azotea, where my studio is located, is a beautiful working farm with guided coffee tours. There’s also Finca El Pilar, where you can hike & swim in a pool fed by natural spring water. A gallery called La Nueva Fabrica is well worth a visit to see contemporary art installations.

I love the coffee in Guatemala. Artista del Cafe & El Gran Cafe are two favourite spots of mine. The restaurant scene is great too- Nana has excellent cocktails & a vintage clothes store, while Santo Espiritu serves up incredible Italian food in a beautifully modern space.

There are so many more places I always recommend to people, so I created a custom map of Antigua featuring everything I love.

 

Any new projects on the horizon?

I designed & built a studio as a space for people to come together and honour the craft of weaving. You can meet artisans & learn traditional techniques. We’re based on the outskirts of Antigua, inside a 150-year-old coffee farm. We have our own natural dyes garden, cotton plants & a whole greenhouse for growing cochineal & dyeing with indigo.

Recently we opened an outdoor kitchen, with natural wines & incredible food. The restaurant is run by Andrés Descamps and Pablo Diaz, the owner of Mercado 24 in Guatemala City which was voted one of Latin America’s top 100 restaurants.

I’m also working on developing a space for wellness retreats on the other side of Antigua. Groups can rent it out & I’ll offer a curated retreat myself a few times a year.

What do you never travel without?
Handwoven towels from Luna Zorro. They are lightweight, with cool designs & you can roll them up really small. They’re pretty versatile, as a wrap or a blanket for the plane & the ideal beach towel which dries off quickly.

How do you unwind?

Yoga feels like an old friend. Studying World Arts & Cultures at UCLA in my twenties, I got credits for taking yoga classes. At the time I had no idea my teacher, Shiva Rea, was world-famous. I thought it was way too hard at first, but through the years I’ve always come back to yoga to help me slow down & reconnect. Cooking is also a huge part of my life. I love the decompression of going to the market, selecting fresh ingredients & preparing food each day.


Where’s next on your travel list?

I’m going to India in February for the first time which has always been a dream of mine. Although I’ve explored a lot of Central America, I haven’t been further south to Peru, Colombia or Bolivia so I’d love to explore there too. Often I’m drawn to places with a tradition of textiles & weaving. I have a collection of textiles from across the world handed down to me from my mother, grandmother & great-aunt- it’s truly in my blood.

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